The school closures due to COVID-19 has had disrupted education for 1.6 billion of learners in the world. By now, in a few countries, schools are re-opening again. To make sure that all students are safe, countries implemented special precautious measures to prevent the virus from spreading. Nevertheless, in the majority of countries where our school projects are located, schools remain officially closed. This leads to other alternative forms of learning because teachers want to support them in the best way they can.
Here is an update on the current situation in the countries of our schools:
In Laos and Myanmar, schools re-opened again. Both of the countries didn’t report a lot of COVID-19 cases for over a month, so the government decided to repeal the school closures with precautious measures like wearing a face mask all the time. In South Africa, the government implemented a revised school curriculum to make sure that the final exams can be taken with enough preparation, and 50% of the children attend classes in school, the other 50% are being taught via WhatsApp. In Tanzania, schools already re-opened at the end of June. The early opening created mixed feelings among teachers and parents because they were fearing that the students would become sources of infection. However, the children felt relief going back to school. They were very affected psychologically for missing classes.
Other countries decided differently: in Kenya, schools will be closed until January 2021. Cambodia decided to continue the school lockdown until the next academic year, which starts in November. In all South and Latin American Countries, except for Nicaragua in various countries, schools without special permissions remain closed. Some African countries like Madagascar, Senegal, and Niger wanted to re-open their schools but had to adjust the official opening due to a new infection wave.
As many teachers recognized that online learning courses exposed the divide between children that have access to the internet and those who do not, they organized themselves differently. In Kenya, for example, some teachers organized open-air courses to catch up on the missing classes. Chuon Naron, Minister of Education in Laos, states the problem of internet accessibility as well: “Among the three million students, 1.5 million have accessed the digital education system. The other half depends on the books published by the ministry.”